To Measure Is To Know

You have not viewed any products recently.


Spectrum Blog

All About the Green: How Research Investment by Government and Golf Industry Benefited Industry Sustainability

banner jul2022

Established in 1920 by the United States Golf Association (USGA), the Green Section has been instrumental in providing courses assistance with turfgrass culture through collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in research and education. Investing in best practices and technologies with the end goal of sustainability have contributed to better use of water and pesticides in American golf courses. However, the economic impact has been astounding.

In a September 2021 publication by The International Turfgrass Society Research Journal, evidence of the financial benefit from the USGA’s research was presented. Through an online survey of management practices and adoption of technologies from courses, it was determined that this investment into research provided the industry a significant savings. How much? A total benefit of around $1.03 billion! Here is how that research paid off so heavily across all three management practices, particularly through the adoption of soil moisture meters.

The Survey and Modeling

Sponsored by USGA, superintendents from the Golf Course Superintendents’ Association of America (GCSAA) were invited to complete the survey several times in the spring and summer of 2020. At the end of the survey 610 responses were collected. Based on this data, multiple econometric models were created for three management practices including water budgeting, soil moisture sensors and practices that reduce pollution caused by fertilizers and pesticides.

Questions on the survey included the respondent’s familiarity with the practice and whether they had used it, their perceived benefit of the practice and the timing of adoption for those who had used it, or if they were considering adopting it. Each model generated was used to score all participants and generate predictions for the models.

Results and Adoption

Although most of the respondent group was more familiar with best management practices involving fertilizer (95.9%), moisture meters had the highest adoption rate among those who were familiar with the tool (49.6% compared to the 45.6% adoption rate for fertilizer best practices among those familiar). Additionally, those who had used moisture meters reported the highest annual cost savings per facility and had been historically using the practice one-to-ten years before the survey, making up the largest percentages of historical adoption.

Total Annual Savings

While the other management strategies provided thousands of dollars in savings, moisture meters on average saved $58,009 per facility (6.3% savings). This resulted in annual savings of $488.7 million in total for all facilities surveyed.

One of the more important aspects of the Green Section’s mission was to make better use of resources while optimizing playing conditions. Because of this, participants were also asked about the nonfinancial benefits of the three practices such as water efficiency, golfer satisfaction and playing conditions. Facilities who had adopted moisture meters had seen a larger percentage of these benefits such as 88.5% in water efficiency. Golfer satisfaction was also higher likely due to use of the instruments providing more firm and spatially consistent playing surfaces.

It is truly exciting to see how much benefit the golf industry can have from research such as this. Adoption of these best practices is needed for the industry to have continued sustainability. Governments and those in the industry should see the return on investment and support similar endeavors in the future.

To learn more about how our measurement tools can help keep turf healthy, contact the experts at Spectrum Technologies® today at 800-248-8873.